Helicopter business touts mobile tech benefits

October 28, 2013

Heather Howley, owner of New Windsor, N.Y.-based flight school and aero business Independent Helicopters, believes that mobile technology—including AOPA FlyQ Pocket—has helped keep her in the game.

“I remember using paper charts, plotting everything with a plotter and E6B and having to plan every detail and every alternate. It’s kind of like using Mapquest and printing out paper directions before GPS in your car,” said Howley. “I still do a lot of the traditional means of flight planning as back up, but my primary means is now either through mobile technology or the Internet.”

Howley, along with most of her students, use iPhones and iPads, although a few of them use Android phones and tablets. “I use FlyQ Pocket. My favorite feature is the winds aloft, which you  usually can’t get from the other mobile apps. I also use the flight planning information for [things like] airport diagrams, fuel, and services,” she said. “It's a very comprehensive application that combines a lot of my favorite features into one.” Howley also uses MyRadar, AeroWeather, and a website called usairnet.com on her iPhone.  

“I use my apps primarily for teaching my students weather. A lot of them like to use ForeFlight for flight planning purposes on their iPads, so we use both the traditional means of flight planning and weather gathering information with our students and supplement it with mobile technology,” said Howley. “I plan on incorporating it more into my everyday teaching. My students can also get access to my PowerPoints on their phones and tablets through the Internet.”

Mobile technology is a great way to plan a flight, get up-to-date weather, and research airport services like fuel prices and restaurants, said Howley. “When you're always on the go, it's hard to find a computer nearby to check weather, or even an airport nearby to get their current weather,” she said. “Mobile technology, both on the phone and tablet, make it very easy to get up-to-date information. I love the ease and accessibility of having mobile technology and the carriers are making it easier and easier to use it anywhere you go.”

Benét Wilson

Benét J. Wilson | AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor

AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.